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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2133780
by brom21
Rated: ASR · Short Story · Western · #2133780
A mysterious stranger comes to a normal town seeking something out of the ordinary.
John Binion sat at the saloon table with the rim of his hat covering his eyes as he held his cards. He had a straight flush. The odds of him winning the pot that had grown to over nine-hundred dollars seemed likely.

“I will raise the stakes - thirty dollars,” John said.

The other three men did not even flinch. John knew he was challenging the three best poker players around.

“You’re a bold one stranger – and skilled too. No other poker player would made this far. Where are you from,” asked the tall, stalky man sitting across the square table.

John smirked. Then he took out a cigarette and lighted it with a match. He took a puff and exhaled. Then he looked up at the man with a still face. “I’m a travelin’ man.”

“I see.” The man said as he put in thirty dollars. The two other men did the same. “What was the last place you were?”

“I’d tell yah, then I’d have to kill yah.”

They laughed.

The player at John’s right gave him a smile with missing teeth. “You’ve got some grit. I call,” said the man as he laid out a two pair. The other two folded with a grunt and a pound on the table.

John laid down his cards. “Tough luck partners.” The winning stranger gathered the pile of money. He stood. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll quit while I’m ahead.” John turned and exited the saloon.

“There is something I don’t like about that guy – and I mean dangerous.”

John had acquired an ample amount of money to continue his mission. He went to the fanciest inn in town. He came to the innkeeper at a counter. One room please. John gave the money and was given a key with Room 14 on it.

“Oh, and one more thing,” said John.

“Certainly,” replied the keeper.

“I heard in another town nearby there has been ghost reports.”

“Oh that? It’s just a recent rumor. Some actually believe it but I’m sure it will pass.”

“I see,” said John. “Who has claimed to have seen it?”

The innkeeper chuckled. “Just a handful of people – mostly just drifters that wonder around town.”

“Could you direct me to them?”

“Sure there is one right there,” the keeper replied, pointing.

“Thank you.” John approached a man at a table and sat across from him. “Before you say anything, I assure you I don’t think you are crazy or telling a story. Tell me about the ghost.”

“Why are you curious?”

“You seem like a man who can keep a secret. I’ve spent over six years searching for a ghost – one that has eluded me for years,” said John.

“You do believe. If you want to know, the ghost was see through and had glowing green eyes with white wiry hair. Why are you after it?”

“This ghost is none other than a cursed pirate doomed to wonder the earth. I have come to vanquish him so he might be judged.”

The man’s eyes were wide with a gaping mouth.

John continued speaking. “Did this ghost have an eyepatch with a drawing of a scorpion on it?”

“Yes! – and it had a silver belt in the shape of a serpent.”

“That is correct. It may be asking a lot, but would you direct me to where I encounter it?”

The man trembled. “I wouldn’t dare!”

“I could pay you most handsomely.” John pulled out four-hundred dollars.

The man’s eyes widened. “Very well. I’ll tell you where I have seen it appear before. But do not expect me to stay.”

“You have a deal.”

The man brought John to an old abandoned stable situated close to the wilderness away from the town.

“You’re on your own from here.” The man turned on his heels and left.

John sat on a rotting plank of wood that was once part of a fence. He was silent for hours. Soon the blue light of the moon appeared. Than it occurred to him that the spirit may not show himself, John being the very one that could banish the ghost from the mortal plain. Finally something happened.

A man in tattered rags with a silver belt appeared.

“You’re probably wondering why I have chosen to appear,” said the ghost with a rasp.

“It doesn’t matter. Now your judgement comes.”

The ghost pulled out a book. “Do you remember when you chased me to that city that had that vast library? I found a book with an enchantment that will restore my body.”

“Impossible. The witch doctor who cursed you made it unbreakable. You deserve it for stealing from him.”

“Ah, but he was wrong. It says here how I can free myself from this curse.”

The ghost read from the book. Next, his transparency began to solidify until he was completely flesh. “Now I can kill you.”

John backed away. He took out a gun. With a flick of the pirate’s hand, the gun went flying from John’s hand.

“You have powers!”

“Ah, I forgot to tell you that part. With the knowledge I gained from being a specter, I have gained supernatural abilities.” The pirate lifted his arm and John went flying back. He lay there with the pirate standing over him. “Goodbye John.”

Just as the physical being was about to plunge a sword into John’s chest, a loud bang rung out as blood ruptured out of the pirate. “No! How could I…!” Then he fell back, completely still.

John looked. It was one of the three poker players. He held a smoking shotgun. “It was good I followed you. I knew there was something strange about you. I listened in on your conversation with the man who brought you here.”

“I owe you my life.”

“No, you owe me money.”

“Very well. It is ironic that becoming human again is what made him vulnerable,” said John.

“Indeed. Come on. I’ll buy you a drink.”

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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2133780